module specification

SJ6032 - Screening America in Hollywood Film (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Screening America in Hollywood Film
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
210 hours Guided independent study
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   3,000 Word Essay
Coursework 60%   5,000 Word Essay
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module explores the ways in which Hollywood film represents American history and culture, examining notions of myth, cultural, political and social context, and the genre of the Hollywood historical film. Considering both specific historical events and broader cultural eras, the module examines both issues of historical narrative and Hollywood’s key role in both representing and challenging norms of American culture.

This module aims to:

• Examine the ways in which Hollywood film shapes our understanding of American history

• Explore American mythology articulated through Hollywood film

• Critically analyse screen representations of American historical events

• Examine our understanding of particular cultural eras represented in Hollywood film

• Explore the ways in which Hollywood film reinforces and challenges cultural norms

• Critically analyse the genre of the Hollywood historical film

Prior learning requirements



The module will first explore a number of key moments in American history, considering the ways in which our knowledge and understanding of these events and of American mythology has been shaped by Hollywood film.

Debates around the genre of the Hollywood historical film will be explored, including the conflict between fact and fiction, the impact of cinematic style, the reinforcement of American mythology, and the ‘Great White Man’ narrative.

Case studies may include the Great Depression and New Deal, the immigrant experience, the Civil Rights Movement, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, considering films such as The Godfather II, The Grapes of Wrath, Selma and JFK.

The second part of the module will focus on a particular era in American culture, exploring the ways in which Hollywood film defines the image of an era and the extent to which these representations both reinforce and challenge cultural norms.

For example, an examination of the post-war era might explore topics such as shifting attitudes towards gender roles, the Cold War, the cultural impact of television, and the rise of middle-class suburbia.

Learning Outcomes LO 1 - 6

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Learning and teaching on the module will be conducted via lectures, seminars, screenings, blended learning and students’ guided independent study. Students will be expected to enhance their learning in scheduled classes through guided secondary and primary research. The developing assessment strategy provides opportunities for personal development as students are able to reflect on and develop their learning and skills of research and critical analysis in conjunction with tutor feedback in preparation for their final extended essays.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

(1) Critically analyse screen representations of key moments in American history

(2) Demonstrate an understanding of debates in relation to the genre of the Hollywood historical film

(3) Critically debate the impact of Hollywood film on the audience’s understanding of American history and mythology

(4) Explore and analyse the depiction of particular eras of American cultural history in Hollywood film

(5) Critically analyse the ways in which Hollywood film both reinforces and challenges cultural norms through its representation of American culture

(6) Effectively articulate ideas and arguments in essay coursework through the use of both primary and secondary research


Core Text:
Drew Casper, Postwar Hollywood: 1946-1962 (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007).
Steven Mintz and Randy W. Roberts (eds.), Hollywood’s America: Twentieth-Century America Through Film (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).
Peter C. Rollins (ed.), Hollywood as Historian: American Film in a Cultural Context (Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1998).
W. Bryan Rommel Ruiz, American History Goes to the Movies: Hollywood and the American Experience (New York: Routledge, 2011).
Robert Brent Toplin, History by Hollywood: The Use and Abuse of the American Past (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996).

Other Texts:
Steven Cohan, Masked Men: Masculinity and the Movies in the Fifties (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1997).
Marcia Landy (ed.), The Historical Film: History and Memory in Media (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000).
Karen McNally, When Frankie Went to Hollywood: Frank Sinatra and American Male Identity (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2008).
Bill Nichols (ed.), Movies and Methods Vol. I (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1976).
Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era (New York: Basic Books, 1998), pp. 10-29.

Literature/Film Quarterly
Black Camera
American Quarterly